“Two Minutes” | Directed by Tucker Gates, Cinematography by…

“Two Minutes” | Directed by Tucker Gates, Cinematography by Giorgio Scali

[This week remained hectic as heck so we are keeping the more casual format. –Sara]

Sara: Opening (or closing) with a Carrie mirror shot is classic Homeland and I love to see it! She looks very tired. I hope when the series is over, Carrie takes a long nap. But not, y’know, the LONG long nap.

Gail: If this shot is a look into her current emotional state, which I think it most definitely is, she looks tired but determined. She hasn’t been out of that rehab center for very long, you have to wonder how her medications are working, because it’s clear she isn’t getting enough sleep. But good God–Claire Danes is gorgeous!

Gail: When I watched this scene I had a few realizations. At first I thought the red thing in front of the water glass was a pill but when I zoomed in it looks like floss. Then it occurred to me that we haven’t seen Carrie taking her meds or listening to jazz this season. This version of Carrie seems very stripped down (no pun intended). No mentions of seeing her family or FaceTiming Franny either. I don’t know what any of this means yet, but pointing it out for future context.

Sara: Floss? Whoulda thunk? I love this very obviously photoshopped (or whatever the video equivalent of that is… CGI?) scene of “mourners” gathering outside the White House.

Gail: I loved this opening shot of Max with his back to us… much like the donkey at the end of the episode, he has the flight recorder strapped to his back via a backpack and he treks uphill. I love the pop of color from the flight recorder and Max’s backpack in this desert-like scene. The importance in this shot is all about knowing where the flight recorder is and less about who is carrying it. Although I’m sure everyone joined us in a sign of relief to see Max still alive!

Sara: Chekhov’s flight recorder! I’m thinking of other significant objects on the show (like Brody’s vest), but none have gotten the attention that this dang flight recorder is getting. Also, Max writing his name in sharpie on his backpack is big younger child energy.

Sara: As someone who wears glasses, I really admire that Max is always, without fail, wearing his. No matter how sweaty he is. I love you, Max! 

Gail: It is very interesting how every time Saul is kidnapped, his glasses are taken from him, but Max gets to keep his (for now at least?). Maybe there is a metaphor there about how Max isn’t losing sight of the bigger picture?

Sara: IJLTP, and it’s the first of a few POV shots this week. Max really is like an audience stand-in and this makes it even more literal.

Gail: IJLTP too! Such a great shot.

Sara: They had a shot very similar to this in Keane’s speech from “Paean to the People.” I really love how you can see how very manufactured this all is. Not that any of us need to be reminded of that…

Gail: The focus of this scene starts with the people behind it. I love that, because while the President is what the people are watching, he’s getting his cues and information from everyone else. In “Chalk One Up” we saw the theater of the peace announcement. Here we see the theater of the new president making his first speech. It’s all just words until the intentions behind them are realized.

Sara: Some of the keywords here: 

  • Bust
  • MARTA (the “mass” “transit” “system” in Atlanta… where my Atlanta homies at?)
  • Body scanner
  • Narcos
  • Influenza
  • Plot

Gail: If these keywords are a part of the search for Max, shouldn’t his name be on it? Or American? No wonder Carrie was pissed! Get with it, Lonnie! 

Sara: I know this is a stunt double, but it’s still meant to be Carrie, and Carrie riding this motorcycle so awesomely is one of the most badass things about her. We have no choice but to stan. 

Gail: What a cool payoff to all of the scenes and allusions of Carrie leaving the station undetected. Girl is resourceful, no doubt.

Sara: Are these wide shots so that Costa Ronin, who is apparently nine feet tall, and Claire Danes would both fit in the frame? Also, “I just like how he leans.” 

Gail: I think the shot might be indicative of their power dynamic. But I agree with you, Yevgeny’s consistent nonchalance is such a great character detail.

Gail: Interesting that by the end of their scene, Yevgeny sits down, making his body language less threatening. He enjoys these games with Carrie a little too much for my liking.

Sara: That smirk…

Sara: The framing here is really interesting. G’ulom sitting casually while Saul and Scott Ryan stand stick straight, almost obediently (ironically), is really striking. G’ulom has these almost angelic white curtains behind him while Saul and Scott are cloaked in shadows.

Gail: This feels different from Yevgeny’s casual nonchalance. I get the sense here that G’ulom is sitting out of lack of respect for the people standing before him. G’ulom turned his back on platitudes the second he turned his back on Ambassador Gaeto in the opening of “Chalk Two Down.” He only stands at the end of the scene to exert his power over Saul and General Ryan.

Sara: And then this shot, which is incredible. Centering G’ulom in the frame really emphasizes his power.

Gail: Such a great POV shot to see Saul and General Ryan’s reactions to G’ulom.

Sara: …and I love the specific choreography of Saul and Scott both exiting so that their bodies are hidden behind G’ulom. I feel like Homeland doesn’t do shots this stylized that often so when they do it feels all the more impactful. 

Gail: I find it so interesting that G’ulom has turned his back on the audience too. 

Gail: I love the glimpses of the relationship between Mike and Jenna. Is this how Saul and Carrie started out?

Sara: Oof, ya think? I didn’t even think about their relationship in that context (maybe because the age gap is not as great) but now that you say it… I find it a really interesting way to shoot this, almost like we’re eavesdropping on them eavesdropping on Carrie. I love when Homeland returns to themes of surveillance. 

Sara: Why onions? Because we’re peeling the layers of this story. (I’ll see myself out.)

Gail: OMG, Sara! You are right, they are onions! I’m ashamed to say I thought they were beets. (Thanks, Dwight.)

Gail: When Fibrooz, Max’s captor, reaches for Max’s wrist in this scene, I thought he was going to unlock the cuffs. Doesn’t bode well for Max that this guy is all about making a buck.

Sara: Major Carrie in “Why Is This Night Different?” vibes. The framing is almost identical. This continues some of the role reversal of Carrie and Max this year.

Gail: I love the details in this shot and the one of the market shelves. It looks like a random assortment of remotes and calculators and jars on shelves, but it’s actually very organized.

Sara: Are they selling remote controls without the TVs that they control? 

Sara: Chekhov’s flight recorder strikes again! Sorry, I have nothing intelligent to say about the device of this damn flight recorder because I find it so freaking hilarious. 

Gail: I love how we are seeing the journey of this flight recorder and all of the different people who are getting their hands on it.

Sara: This show is really making me feel sympathy for Haqqani, which is completely wild. Look how he’s softly dressed in the light here. Total character rehab happening this season on all fronts. Numan Acar has infused him with a real weariness and softness that’s added so many new layers to what was once just a classic villain. 

Gail: I agree, Numan Acar has done an outstanding job with his portrayal of Haqqani. The writers approach to softening him has paired wonderfully with the direction of the show and has led to great shots like this of Haqqani, the man and father.

Sara: Gail pointed this out on the podcast. As the conversation progresses and Hayes veers off script he literally turns away from Linus. Subtle but effective. The use of body language this season has been pretty great.

Gail: The choreography has been fantastic, I agree. Wellington has ditched his suit and has rolled up his sleeves. His calm demeanor and thoughtful counsel that we’ve come to know about him is clearly about to be tested.

Sara: IJLTP.

Gail: When one door (seemingly) closes, another one opens.

Sara: IJLTP.

Gail: The blue lights behind her are gorgeous.

Sara: “CATASTROPHIC ERROR” 

Gail: The details! And much foreshadowing!

Gail: Things start out friendly and at a distance and then we rapidly move into tighter shots as Mike reveals to Saul just how bad the optics are for Carrie right now.

Sara: This is such a lovely shot and I love all Homeland rooftop scenes. Sometimes Carrie’s smoking, sometimes she’s having a panic attack, sometimes both things are happening at once. See how I turned this into a thing about Carrie? 

Sara: I don’t know if this is a new choice by Claire, but recently I feel like Carrie has a habit of literally turning away from difficult conversations. Anyway, this Carrie/Saul scene was incredible.

Gail: There has been a subtle shift to her personality this season. It must be hard to face her new reality and looking at Saul has to be one of the more daunting reminders of what it used to be.

Sara: It struck my while watching (and rewatching and rewatching) that Saul is literally the only human on the planet who could have this conversation with her. He knows when to push and when to relent, when to raise his voice and when to lower it. He really does manage her. Likewise, she knows when and where to strike. It goes without saying that Claire and Mandy are incredible here. This scene is really a testament to how invaluable the foundation of watching two characters (and actors) develop a relationship, in real time, over ten years, is for the audience. It massively enhances the performances and the dramatic weight of the scene. 

Gail: Sara!! You are buying into my Ivan/Saul convo theory (from “A False Glimmer”)!! I agree with everything you said and would add that with all of that being true, Saul can’t possibly think Carrie is getting on that plane back to rehab willingly.

(Sara: Guess he should have gotten the handcuffs then…)

Gail: What a stunning shot. I gasped when I saw it. Not because Haqqani was turning himself in. That I expected. But how Carrie witnesses it and reacts to it. The last time Carrie was that close to Haqqani she almost shot him. I Khan’t believe how much things have changed.

Sara: Gail, khan you not? Anyway, I agree, it’s a stunning shot. I can’t properly articulate why I love it so much so: IJLTP.

Sara: I know the show did something like when Carrie woke up from being drugged in “Why Is This Night Different?” I won’t check, because I don’t care to revisit that episode ever again. Gail, can you verify? 

Gail: They did and it was eerily similar. Big difference though: Quinn was saving/protecting Carrie and Fibrooz is most definitely not doing the same for Max.

Gail: The bookend to the opening scene with Max. The flight recorder has made its way into another backpack, heading up a mountain. I LOVE the color in this scene and how the flight recorder is on a JOURNEY.

Sara: Quite possibly the funniest scene on this show ever.

Gail: This spy is heading into the cold…

Sara: “Carrie, no!” … “CARRIE YES!”

Gail: Yevgeny’s (partly faux) nonchalance (he sneaks a peek!) and Carrie’s focused stare say so much without saying a word. No looking out the window for Carrie this time, we know where her mind is at.

Sara: Carrie stares straight ahead. Yevgeny can’t help but turn and look at her. Truly iconic. I know I say that about everything, but this really is I-CON-IC!